Many great philosophical ideas were born in China, including Confucianism and Taoism. Although these two ideas appeared almost simultaneously, they are completely different from each other. Confucianism focuses on the entire society, while Taoism is individual-oriented.
They also have a lot in common. For example, both Taoism and Confucianism have religious and philosophical aspects. Nevertheless, they have different behavioral principles and ways of thinking. Writing a compare and contrast essay on this topic might be challenging but it will certainly be a very interesting experience!
The Structure of the Essay
The main purpose of a compare and contrast essay is to analyze the similarities and differences between the two subjects. However, it’s not enough to just mention these differences and similarities. You should also come up with meaningful arguments about both subjects. You can organize such an essay in different ways. Here are the most common approaches.
- Point by point
Essays organized in this way directly discuss differences and similarities. For example, you can point out that both Taoism and Confucianism are religious philosophies and explain your point. This structure is easy to comprehend but it may be a bit confusing for a writer because you need to determine your key points in advance and plan the structure of your essay in detail.
- Subject by subject
This type of structure requires you to discuss the features of one subject and then move to the second subject. Therefore, you should describe Confucianism first, writing about its origins, beliefs, and practices, and then do the same with Taoism or vice versa.
This approach is convenient for a writer because it’s straightforward so you won’t need to jump back and forth from one subject to another. However, you should use this approach carefully because your readers may forget some details and get confused.
- Compare first, and then contrast
This structure requires you to compare the two subjects, highlighting the similarities. After this, you should contrast them, focusing on the differences. This structure is convenient for both the writer and the readers.
Writing an Outline
The outline is very important because it helps you organize your thoughts properly and plan the logical structure of your paper. First, choose the type of organization from the list above, and then plan your paragraphs.
Explain your intention to discuss the similarities and differences between Confucianism and Taoism. Explain why this topic is relevant and why these two subjects should be compared.
Plan the body paragraphs according to the chosen structure. Here is a template for the subject by subject structure:
- Body Paragraph 1. Taoism: Ideas about human nature.
- Body Paragraph 2. Taoism: Ideas about salvation.
- Body Paragraph 3. Confucianism: Ideas about human nature.
- Body Paragraph 4. Confucianism: Ideas about salvation.
Acknowledge that you’re aware of other viewpoints, arguments, and statements. Explain that you cannot address all the points because of the limitations of the essay format.
Summarize your ideas and restate the thesis statement. Don’t paraphrase the thesis statement because your readers remember how you’ve presented it in the introduction. You should consider it from a new angle and give your readers something to think about.
Differences Between Confucianism and Taoism
Here are the key differences between these two traditions:
Confucianism focuses on human behavior and ethics, while Taoism focuses on a belief in nature and a natural way of life.
The main focus of Taoism is nature. The main focus of Confucianism is improving society.
Confucianism was founded by Kong Qui; Taoism was founded by Lao Tsu.
- Women in society
Confucianism considers women inferior to men, while Taoism treats women as respected members of society.
Confucianism has holidays on Teacher Day, ancestor day, and the Chinese New Year. Taoism has holidays on the Chinese New Year, the three-day festival of the dead, and ancestor day.
You may use these differences when writing your compare and contrast essay. However, these are just a few major differences so we recommend that you do your research and study these two traditions in more detail.
Similarities Between Taoism and Confucianism
Although Taoism and Confucianism are different in so many ways, they still have some similar features. Make sure to address these similarities, as well. For example, both Taoism and Confucianism have the same cosmogony that derives from Buddhism. There are also a few other similarities:
- Both philosophies aim to find harmony with the Way.
- Both philosophies originated in China.
- An improved social order is a result of self-improvement.
- Tao plays an important role in both philosophies.
Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay
We’ve listed a few differences above, and you can include more in your essay. How can you do this? For example, you can make a diagram with overlapping circles, listing the common characteristics in the middle.
Keep in mind the purpose of your essay and make sure that all your points help you achieve this purpose. For instance, you may answer the following questions:
- When did they originate?
- What are Taoism and Confucianism about?
- How broad are the scopes of these philosophies?
- Who created them and why?
List the differences and similarities, and then select the ones that look most relevant in the context of your paper. Make sure that your paper is interesting to read and pay particular attention to your thesis statement.
We also recommend that you choose the right vocabulary and pay attention to your language. Here are some words that will help you indicate similarities and differences:
- even though
- on the contrary
- on the other hand
We hope that these tips will help you write an outstanding compare and contrast essay on Taoism and Confucianism!